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Sale of Hasan letter prompts proposed ban on 'murderabilia'

Oct. 1, 2013 - 05:54PM   |  
This letter from Nidal Hasan to a college student sold on the website Darkvomit.com for $2,000. Hasan wrote it while he was in jail.
This letter from Nidal Hasan to a college student sold on the website Darkvomit.com for $2,000. Hasan wrote it while he was in jail. (Darkvomit.com)
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Sparked by the recent online sale of a letter signed by Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Nidal Hasan, a U.S. senator from Texas has proposed a law against selling items linked to famous killers, dubbed “murderabilia.”

A prison letter from Hasan to a criminology student recently sold for $2,000 on darkvomit.com, a self-described gallery of macabre and outsider art.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced a bill Sept. 19 to block high-profile criminals from profiting from the sale of artwork, letters and other memorabilia by serial killers, mass murderers and others convicted of heinous crimes.

“Every day, the family members of victims are forced to re-live their tragedies as prisoners attempt to make a profit off of the notoriety of their case by selling these items on gruesome web sites,” Cornyn said in a statement.

The idea of Cornyn’s bill is to stop a criminal from being able to mail an item with the intention that someone, somewhere makes a profit — not necessarily just the prisoner himself, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Kelly Hutchinson, of Dark Vomit, said in an email interview that he obtained the Sept. 10, 2012 letter in a trade for a work of his art. Hutchinson said he obtained it from a criminology student.

His original asking price for the letter was $5,000, but a seller who asked him to remain anonymous negotiated down the price, he said.

Hutchinson said the profits from the sale of Hasan’s letter were donated to a charitable organization that assists veterans. He did not name the organization.

Dark Vomit offers dozens of items linked to Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy and other convicted killers and criminals.

Hutchinson said he is motivated by an interest in abnormal psychology and mental illness, and that the store “was not setup to glorify murder, but rather, to study it.”

“I find it to be an endless quest to comprehend and understand why some individuals commit the crimes that they do,” he said. “There is a lot of information within many letters that I have, that one simply cannot obtain anywhere else ... unless they write to the individual themselves.”

Hasan, in the letter, offered the student study tips adding, “I am trying to concentrate on being good so I can go to Heaven. Eternity is a long time and I don’t want to spend it in hell.”

He also predicted accurately that he would be sentenced to the death penalty.

The former major, convicted of the premeditated murder of 13 troops and civilians and the attempted murder of 32, was sentenced Aug. 28 and has since been transferred to death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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